The Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat profiles Faygie Fields, who spent years in solitary confinement at Tamms Correctional Center, an Illinois supermax prison. Fields, who killed a man during a drug deal in 1984, was labeled a dangerous, violent felon–the “worst of the worst.” But prison officials were unaware that Fields had been committed four times to Chicago-area mental hospitals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and collected disability payments because of mental illness.
Critics of the prison say Fields is a victim of a deeply flawed policy that punishes mentally ill inmates for behavior they cannot control by placing them in solitary confinement for long periods. Such punishment, some critics say, amounts to torture worse than that experienced by suspected terrorists at the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Fields might be free today were it not for add-ons to his sentence for assaulting corrections officers.